Manage a Nexus One with Broken Power Button [Updated]

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http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nexus-One-Teardown/1654/1
Source iFixIt.com

Google’s Nexus One has been, or still is for some users, one of the best Android handset available. However it is far from being the perfect device we would all want to own. They have been reports of problems with the 3G signal, the quality and precision of the screen and also the reliability of the power button. In some cases, the power button will completely stop working and you’ll end up with a nice, Google-branded useless piece of electronics. The reason for the failure is explained by one user (n1 bone head) on the Nexus One Help forum:

“…the power button is mounted on a small board attached to the larger upper board by a small ribbon cable with 2 or 3 trace wires embedded. This smaller board is then bent to 90 degrees from the larger board. Every time you wake your phone this cable flexes slightly. Eventually the traces in the cable fail, at first making the button flaky, then failing completely…”

Close-up on the power button. Source iFixIt.com

Luckily, there are solutions to be able to use your Nexus One without touching the power button.

Now, if you are in the U.S. and have not modify your Nexus One, not rooted or opened it, I would suggest you to get in touch directly with HTC to get a replacement under warranty (phone: 888.216.4736). Many have reported on help forums or on twitter that this device swap is a painless process very well handled by HTC, they will send you a new device and only then you’ll have to return the defective one so you will not be without a phone. However, if you have rooted your device and install a custom ROM, you’ve breached the warranty and HTC will not accept to replace the device (though they’ve made exceptions for some people).

If you are not in the U.S. the process will not be as easy, you might have to send your phone first. The cost and time frame will depends of your local HTC office (if you are lucky enough to have one); you will have contact them to find out.

Now, let’s say you don’t want or can’t get your Nexus One repaired. Here are all the actions to take to get around your defective power button.

Root your phone

This is the first step. There are many reasons to get root access to your phone: install custom ROMs, take screenshots, access paid apps in the Market if you normally can’t, etc. The process is easy and can be done in one click. Most of the apps listed below that will replace the power button require root access.

TrackballWake

One XDA member (metalhead8816) created this hack that will allow you to wake up your Nexus One with the trackball. This hack is integrated into Cyanogen and Modaco ROMs so you should definitively install one of this two. This hack will only wake up the device not unlock it so it will mimic exactly what the power button action. Obviously by installing a custom ROM, you will have many more advantages compare to using the stock Android.

Quick Boot

This app, available for free on the Market, will let you reboot the device. You have the choice of a normal reboot, a reboot into recovery mode or into the bootloader. Again, this app requires root access.

Quick Boot

Airplane and silent mode

As you know, a long press on the power button will give you access to a menu from which you can place the phone in Airplane mode, restart or made it silent. The latter function can be achieved with the volume down button. For the Airplane mode, you can get it from the Wireless & network settings or you can get widgets from the Market to get a more direct access. I would suggest the very good Extended Controls (€0.79 on the Market), it will let you create customized Power Control widgets. You will be also able to rely on Extended Controls for screen saving settings.

Extended Controls

Sleep Mode

I could not find any widget to put directly the phone in sleep mode (please, add a comment if you know one). The best way is to set the screen timeout time to 15 seconds. It can also be done using Extended Controls: you can have one widget to change the time out and one to keep the screen always on. Screebl ($1.99 on the Market) is another app that could help. This application will control the power savings based on the orientation of the phone. It takes a bit of time to get the correct settings for your usage but once you do have them it will help to put phone in sleep mode quickly when you are not using it.
Update: Andy in his comment below suggested to use Lock Screen Widget (free on the Market) to lock the screen, it works like a charm, thank you!

Lock Screen Widget

Screebl

Power On

It will happen sooner or later, you will have to start your Nexus One after the battery will have died or after changing the SIM or SD-card. Without the power button, it would seem impossible, but you can! The trick is to connect the phone via USB to a power source (a charger or computer) and then to remove and insert the battery successively, after a while (5-10 insertions) the device will get confuse and will start. This tip came from Karno, a user from the Nexus One Help forum. I would advise you to always keep a USB cable with you, it will help to borrow a USB port to recharge your phone or restart it if you need to.

To conclude, it is obvious that the Nexus One has a fault with this unreliable power button and we should not have to go to such extent to get around the problem. I hope that HTC has learned from this and has avoided this type of design in all the devices that came after the Nexus One. In the mean time, with these few tips, you can still use your beloved Nexus One without fear that a hardware issue will get in the way.

101 COMMENTS

  1. How can they legally make arbitrary exceptions for some people simply due to their notoriety? Don’t they have to treat everyone equally?

  2. I have not had issues with my N1 power button (I don’t power it down that often, other than to swap batteries).

    But I think people should know that much of the power functionality is also provided in a really nice widget called Power Bar, that’s part of the Cyanogen modded ROMs. This is a terrific extension of the Power Bar widget that came in stock versions of Eclair.

    You can install it by doing a long press on any of the home screens, selecting “Widgets” and selecting “Power Bar” from the widget list. The widget will appear on that home screen and can be drag moved, deleted or reinstalled as with any other widget.

    There’s also a full set of customizations that appears after you drop the widget on the home screen. There is a wide variety of toggles available and a pile of other customizations. My favorite is the airplane mode, which is use daily before I lock the phone away at my job site.

  3. I am going through this right now but I am going to swap my phone with HTC even though I unlocked the bootloader. They know it is a hardware issue so they don’t really care if you modified the software.

    But in the meantime I an using the lock screen widget from the market which turns the screen off with one click. I might continue to use it with my new phone just to limit the usage of the power button.

  4. Download Widget Locker from the Market and you can set up your Nexus One to wake from the Trackball without rooting. You can also fill your lock screen with helpful widgets like the current weather and music playback controls. I consider it to be an essential app for my Nexus One.

  5. One thing that wasn’t mentioned: You need to authorize $529 on a credit card to process an “advanced replacement”. This is kind of BS for an issue that they are recognizing (the person I just spoke to said that HTC recognizes the power button issue).

    My power button no longer works at all (got the device at the end of May). I have not done a return because I cannot go 3 weeks without my primary development device. After reading this article, I thought maybe they were no-longer requiring this crazy “authorization”. Not everyone has an extra $600 laying around (on top of the 6 spent already).

    On top of this, they are telling me that their repair facility is “backed-up,” and that the replacement could take 2-3 weeks. I wonder why they are so backed up?

    I mean, I payed almost $600 for this phone, like many other developers and professionals. To tell me that i need to make another $600 available to avoid waiting 3 weeks for them to fix a hardware design flaw in unreal to me. I may be done with HTC.

    And I was really looking forward to “my” new G2…

  6. That’s a clever workaround, but, jeez, just call HTC Customer Service, 1-888-216-4736, when your Nexus One switch fails. They’ll give you the third degree for maybe ten seconds, until they realize you’re calling about another bad switch. They’re already very familiar with the problem

    They’ll give you a choice of a new phone or they’ll repair yours. I know because my switch failed last month so I called them. I chose to have my phone repaired because it’s “engraved” and it has very special sentimentally value to me.

    HTC immediately emailed me a prepaid FedEx Overnight label. I boxed my broken phone, stuck the label on, and it was at HTC’s repair facility in Denver the next day. Two working days later FedEx pulled in the driveway here with the repaired phone. Also to HTC’s credit (or Googles credit, more likely,) they replaced the entire front half of my Nexus One. Screen, bezel, all.

    If you’ve had a bad experience with HTC’s Denver facility before, forget it. I had several bad experiences trying to get the morons there to reload the OS on my HTC Shift. HTC would neither sell me a restore disk nor install the OS for a fee, and Microsoft, of course, was no help. But, for whatever reason (Google’s intervention?), HTC’s great with Nexus switch repairs.

  7. If you don’t want or can’t have your phone repaired by HTC, then getting around your defective power-button by first rooting your phone seems quite difficult:

    If I can’t switch on my non-rooted phone (because my power-button is broken), how can i start the process of rooting it?

    🙂

  8. My phone doesn’t charge because it seems some of the pins got bent, so no contact is being made with the charger. I called a local repair shop and they think the USB port needs to be replaced, for which they charge $95.

    HTC is offering either the exchange for a refurbished (not new) phone or to send it in for repair, which they say takse 2-3 weeks right now. They also said it would be going to Texas from NYC, not Denver as the person above mentioned…so I’m confused. They mentioned that most USB problems are not covered by the warranty, which I find odd since it’s not something I broke myself. The issue was there from the start and simply got to the point of not charging at all now.

    Any advice?

  9. My Nexus One’s power switch died and phone is out of warranty. However I found one app which saved it from being paper weight. The app is keyguard disabler and only $1.99

    Now the phone turns on with track ball.

  10. Yesterday my Power button on my €#%/NexusOne stopped working. It had been increasingly harder to power up and power down and finally it stopped completely. What the ….! A so called superphone that lasts only a few months???

    Well, as i live in Europe I had to use some fix to make it work. Managed the root the phone and installed the ROM Manager and the loaded a CyanogenMod V6.1.0-RC1 everything seemed to load but CyanogenMod logo continued the whole night. Why did I test an experimental ROM first…!!!! Stupid, stupid me!

    I have no idea to make it work again. The phone is not in USB Debugging mode so I cannot use Adb to manipulate it. The Power Button obviously does not work so how should I put in debug mode to get out of this cycle????

    HELP!!! Any suggestion what to do?
    /A VERY STUPID GUY named Mats Erik

  11. You don’t have to insert/remove the battery several times in order to power on the phone. There is a reliable way to power on the phone every time that someone posted on the Google support forum. Plug in the usb cable with the battery in place and wait until the charging light is lit. Remove the battery, and as soon as the charging light goes out, reinsert the battery. The phone will power up.

  12. I’m surviving fine with my broken nexus 1 without rooting my phone.

    I power up using the USB insert/remove battery trick.
    I unlock the phone by installing a tool called ‘ScreenModeWidget’ by Sam Chiu – just install the app then add the widget to your homescreen and make sure after you power on to toggle it to ‘Awake Stay’ then you can wake the phone up using the trackball.
    There’s a number of widgets you can install for things like flight mode, but to power down I just remove the battery.

    HTH,

    Will

  13. Hi,

    Do you know how to repair/change the power button without sending to customer service ?

    Is it a part that you can buy online or at electronics shops ?

    I don’t mind to pay but i don’t want to stay even one day without my phone !

    Thanks.

    ps: also, do you know any application that will let met simulate the power button to restart or choose airplane mode ? I use Cyanogen mod FROYO

  14. Little bit concerned that they would not do a warranty repair since I unlocked my bootloader :/

    It’s a hardware issue, not software. As nice and helpful as the customer service guy was we still couldn’t come up with a way since my warranty was voided.

    It’s going to cost me £18 just to get the ROM reloaded onto the phone, and a further £20 for delivery charges to get the phone back from Milton Keynes, AND they will “invoice” me for the repairs on the power button, effectively keeping my phone hostage until it’s paid for, and they could not give me any idea on how much the power button fix is going to cost.

    It sucks that HTC in europe does not seem to be as willing to admit this is a hardware flaw and thus not representable as a warranty issue as HTC in the states.

  15. WARNING!
    Do not run “Lock Screen Widget” before TrackballWake, if your power button has completely broken!
    There is a widget on the market, which removes the lock screen, but “Lock Screen Widget” locks your device, ignoring it.

    …bricked my nexus one more time.

  16. Ok, I have a mojor problem with my N1. It was working fine, then the power button started to fail, until one day it failed completely. But I could start my phone by connecting it to the computer or if somebody called me. The funniest part is that I’m a foreign student studying in Netherlands, so I took my HTC N1 with Vodafone subscription. So I thought, maybe I should go to the Vodafone customer service and they will help me out, yeah, the repair guy just took my phone, and after one month, they sent me an sms that I need to pick up my phone, they said that there is an water damage in the phone and it can’t be repaired. Ok, they charged me 35euros for that.

    Now I’m looking in all the forums, how the N1 could work, but it just doesn’t work anymore, I have tried everything starting from removing the batterie and then insterting it again. Wtf should I do, please help, thank you.

    • I have the same issue… remove/insert battery trick doesn’t seem to work anymore. 🙁
      N1 still off.
      Have you some news about?

      tnx
      f.

      • Hi, same for me here. Android 2.2.1,
        removing / inserting battery don’t work at all.
        Do someone know another trick to power this thing on ?

        Thx a lot.

        Ben

        • Yet one more here. Battery trick is not working, and seems I will have to send it for reparation without saving my files and securing out from logged in servcies. services.

  17. Im having the power button problem too…just guessing Google or cyanogen staff can send an update so we can use trackball as power button? I mean ex. By double pressing trackball lock/unlock screen. Long pressing it shows menu as power bt does? This would be easy possible right

  18. “No Lock” is an alternative for TrackballWake. It prevent to lock the phone and you can wake up it with the volume/track ball button.
    Tks!

    • Try “AnyUnlock”. You can use the volume button to unlock (doesn’t change volume). It can also create a widget that can be placed on the home screen to lock phone. Don’t need to use the power button on a regular basis. Installed it on both my wife’s and my N1. My wife’s power button is gone but I’m saving mine.

  19. THANKYOU SO MUCH FOR THIS….MY POWER BUTTON IS BROKE AND COULDNT GET MY NEXUS ON….THE USB REMOVING ASND RE-INSERTING WORKS!!! THANKS AGAIN

  20. I am a product design engineer and I think that rather than fixing the problem on future projects and leaving current customers with this lemmon, HTC (or sombody else) should just design another flex cable with stronger traces and offer it for sale to all Nexus owners. This is a no-brainer, really! Sooner or latter all of us would buy it. Duh…

    • That would be great, but if you look at the part it’s integrated into the whole motherboard flex cable so the whole thing would have to be designed and produced.  Not likely to happen with a phone that didn’t sell very well to start with.

  21. Is there an update to this for rooting a phone with Android 2.3? I can’t find a one-click process, and the directions I did find require the use of the power button to root the phone…

  22. THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH WORK AROUNDS AND TWEEKS ARE THE BEST NEXUS ONE TILL IT BREAKS LOVE MY PHONE HAD IT SINCE IT WAS RELEASED 15 MONTHS AGO

  23. I had this problem, and paid 25 EURO in one of many local mobile phone services in Belgrade, Serbia, to fixi it. Before the fix, I used nolock app, but still power button issue is a nightmare. I will never buy HTC phone again though, one lesson I learned

  24. Thanks a lot for this info, especially how to boot the Nexus. I haven’t tried the Lock Screen Widget but I’m using “Screen Off and Lock” and it lets you lock the phone by holding down the search button. I don’t use the search button much and for me it’s the perfect button to use when the power button is broken!

    //Splix

  25. Widget Locker from the Android Market in combination with Extended Controls is probably the best all around solution for this problem. I put a 1×1 Screen Lock widget on my home screen with Extended Controls, and then have Widget Locker set up to unlock with the volume buttons. Widget Locker is a $2 app, but it’s well worth it. Plus it gives you a killer new unlock screen where you can have slide shortcuts to other apps, so you don’t need to unlock your phone just to check email or sms. Well worth it, and the best alternative unlock app I tried.

    • Thanks David, 🙂 but i can’t turn on my phone once it switched off due to battery drain.. any ideas? i am using usb power cord and not the usb charger…

    • THANK YOU VERY MUCH David. You’re APP is a life saver. I’v had this power button not working problem with my Nexus1 for some weeks now and thought of just retiring my N1 but i really really love this phone (my first love, my first smartfon), Please allow me to say thank you in our Ilonggo dialect once agai, SALAMAT GUID! You’re the best!

    •  please mail it to meee thnxxx>>>[email protected]

  26. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px Helvetica}
    p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 18.0px Helvetica; min-height: 22.0px}

    A GENUINE SOLUTION TO THE POWER BUTTON PROBLEM.

    This app simply saved my Nexus One. The power button was beginning to fail and a repair would have cost far too much. 

    Simple to use, VOL+ to turn on and confirm by the back key. Turn off with icon or at timeout. IT JUST WORKS! I had no trouble with installation, but if you do, just stick at it. You never need to use the Power button again.

    Download from marketplace: 
    https://market.android.com/details?id=cz.destil.fixbrokenpb 

  27. Another instance where a faulty product is sold and then not properly fixed. Why should we have to install an app or work around the problem? HTC should recall the product and provide loan phones until they can provide people, who have subscribed to a contract of payment, before returning a product “fit for purpose”.

    In reality we’re not mush further on from the mobile phones of the 90’s are we? At least they solved the duel function of being an effective weapon against a phone salesman saying they wouldn’t fix it…

  28. I have same power bitton issue. I tried Mr. Karno’s trick and I am able to start my phone. Thanks Mr. Karno. Totally agree with conclusion of this article. HTC has big failure with Power button design. They should recall all the device back and give us a new phone.

  29. I can’t get root access because the power button won’t work… all methods I’ve found want me to push power and Vol dwn or some power button combination. How can I get root access without hitting the power button?

  30. LockEnabler2 lets you put your phone to sleep with the push of a button.

    ScreenModeWidget (the free Lite version) lets you wake your phone with the volume button.

    Install both as widgets….  so….

    For ScreenModeWidget:

    1) Do a “long press” on the desktop
    2) “Add to Home Screen” will pop up — Select “Widgets”
    3) Select “Screen Mode Widget (small)”
    4) Click “Okay”
    5) Tap on ScreenMode Widget Icon until you’ve selected “Screen Stay”

    Unless you reboot (see above to use the battery to reboot) this widget will let you awaken your phone out of sleep mode by hitting the up or down volume.

    For Lock Enabler 2:

    1) Do a “long press” on the desktop

    2) “Add to Home Screen” will pop up — Select “Widgets”

    3) Select “Lock Enabler 2”

    4) Click “Okay”

    5) Tap on ScreenMode Widget Icon until you’ve selected “Screen Stay”
    6) Set the delay time to 1 second

    Just tap the icon that says “settings” any time you want to put your phone in sleep mode.

    Thank you SO much for the tip about the battery to reboot!  I no longer have to replace my phone!  YES!

      • I actually found a better solution to the “waking the phone” problem — ScreenModeWidget only works some of the time.  The best bet is Lock 2.0 — it’s a screenlock app that happens to wake your phone with the volume button.
         
        The full version will let you add numeric passwords, change
        colors/skins, etc.  The demo version will
        work just fine for our purposes, but I went ahead and bought the full version
        for $1.29 since it saved me tons of money and time by not having to send my
        phone into HTC for repairs.

        Also, the custom skins are much nicer.

        The only issue with Lock 2.0 is that it doesn’t start up when you reboot — it defaults to the screen lock program that comes with the phone, so tapping the volume button won’t wake it.  But that’s fine… just wait until the old screen lock pops up and slide it over (if you miss the narrow window, just unplug the phone and plug it back in)… then tap on the Lock 2.0 icon and you’re good to go until your next reboot.

        One more thing:

        I discovered that in order to reboot using the battery method above, all you have to do it plug in the phone, wait for the Charge Light to pop on, take out the battery long enough for the light to go off, then pop the battery back in and it recharges.  No need to take it out 5 to 10 times.

  31. I got one for ya, I have manged well with no power button for some time now.  Boot into recovery & Flash roms, etc…  Now I flashed a rom thats stuck in the boot up process.  I can boot into the bootloader, but can’t hit the power button to go into recovery from the bootlaoder.  Trackball does not work in the bootloader.  So I am stuck at a stuck screen & no option to go into the recovery modua.

  32. i had this issue with my power button, and was able to download 2 free widgets to fix it (my phone is NOT rooted). ‘screen off fx’ works the same as pressing the power button to turn the screen off, by pressing an icon on my home screen. ‘no lock’ works the same as pressing the power button to turn the phone on, by using the volume control button. for some reason ‘no lock’ only works for me if i put the widget in the ‘unlocked’ position, so when i press it, i no longer have to swipe. just wanted to note that i had previously tried ‘fix broken power button’ and it didn’t work for me at all, and was a pain to uninstall.

  33. Anyone figured out a way to root a nexus one with a broken power button?

    I can go to the fastboot screen (powering up the device while holding the trackball down), but can’t proceed much further as I require the power button.
    Any workarounds?

  34. Hey Everyone. I had this problem and now it’s fixed just by using a free app that’s on the android market!!!!!!!
    I just tried it and I’m so happy it saved my beloved N1! It’s an app that easily allows you to press your volume button to turn on your phone:)

    the free app is called             Fix broken power button        the developer is DESTIL
    or
    https://github.com/destil/fix-broken-power-button

  35. Question- How a guy with a already dead N1 can bootload his device.
    I managed to enter the boot screen using the battery and the tracking ball, but now what… How can I enter BootLoad. I have no power button. I have no way how to operate the screen….

    P.S.- Thank you for this post.

  36. hai, thanks cowboy and karno.I am also fasing the same problem, and i tried the battery option but, my nexus one has booted up, but it again switching off itself after booting up and booting up again and continuing like a cyclic process. this cycle continues only when my charger is plugged. immediately   when i remove the charger, the cycle stops. thats it, so i have to repeat the same process again and the same thing happened again. is that the same happened with u guys or did u do any thing different.

  37. Note that you can’t install Cyangogen mod once your power button is gone: to oem unlock you need to press the power button 🙁

  38. I have created an up to date guide[http://myexpeditions.blogspot.com/2011/11/nexus-one-with-broken-power-button.html] on getting the Nexus one fully functional.If you can share it on your blog, that will be helpful!

  39. This worked perfectly. I went to serveral sites, and tried the various tricks. None of which worked. It turns out my power switch is broken.

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  41. I replaced the switch (motherboard flex cable, etc.) but it did not fix the power button problem. I did indeed see that the small power button cable was broken on the original part.

    Is there anything else that can cause this problem?

    I can get my phone to power on, I cannot get the button to work.

  42.  hey! i think this remove-and quick re-insert the battery thing depends on what type of nexus one we are using, mine is Nexus One SLCD/LCD. there’s another model that is Nexus One AMOLED,well mine doesnt work! i mean it worked before it gets broken! but now no matter how many thousand times i try, the damn phone will not turn on! :-w

  43. Thank you so much for the “how to turn on steps”. Seeing others having the same problem I made a quick video showing the remove/insert battery trick in action. It may seem obvious, but the timing in which it is done is very important. http://youtu.be/SIkQtTJP_eo

  44. That was a great solution. Didn’t know that the truck could fool the device and restart it. Earlier I had been to number if venders who kept on talking about some MB problem. luckily, I didn’t hand over my Nexus one and now can use it as my greatest possession. As also suggested I am now using both the widgets to enable volume button for waking up of the device. Thanks a lot for so much of the guidance. Please keep up the updating forum.

  45. Terrific, I am glad I searched about this (N1 faulty power button), now I have saved myself from running to the Service Center which may cost me a lot!
    ****Thanks a lot for this post!****

    Also a simple app – ‘AnyUnlock’ will do the trick – no need to root your phone!

  46. It still wont turn on and I’m so sad, I tried this method many many many times, and I got it to work but it turned off again and I don’t know what I did…does anyone else have a method to turn it on?

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